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Pakistan and US to enhance trade, economic relations

Daily Times, Pakistan

6 May 2006

Pakistan and US to enhance trade, economic relations

* US official meets commerce minister
* US praises Pakistan’s trade and investment policies

Staff Report

ISLAMABAD: The United States has appreciated Pakistan’s trade and investment policies as liberal and attractive and has suggested to the government of Pakistan to arrange a meeting with all US companies working in Pakistan at a proper forum to know their concerns about making investment in Pakistan and subsequently devise a mechanism to address their concerns as it would go a long way in attracting foreign investment in Pakistan.

Similarly, the government of Pakistan should identify and negotiate with major US companies that are now not working in Pakistan and try to address their investment- related concerns so that they also can invest in Pakistan. United States Under Secretary of State for Trade and Commerce Franklin L Lavin who called on Minister for Commerce Humayun Akhtar Khan on Friday suggested measures for enhancing US investment in Pakistan.

The minister agreed to the US proposal and said Pakistan wishes to have seamless connection with the US and the world economy for movement of goods, services and capital. The minister also discussed issues regarding the next meeting of Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), early conclusion of Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT), Free Trade Agreement and intellectual property rights. The minister said it was important to conclude the BIT early. He said Pakistan has shown considerable flexibility in accepting the USA draft text. The BIT’s successful conclusion rested on one or two outstanding issues, and hoped that the US would also show the same flexibility so that a convergence of interests can occur, he added.

Mr Khan said Pakistan was keen desire to sign an FTA with the US. He said that FTA with the US would send a positive signal about Pakistan’s policy environment.

On the issue of intellectual property rights, he reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to improve the IPR environment. He mentioned that last year Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency was given additional legal cover for the enforcement of IPR laws and Pakistan was successful in almost eliminating optical media piracy, a fact that was recognized in the USA by moving Pakistan from priority watch- list country to watch list status. The minister assured Mr Lavin that Pakistan would take all necessary steps to address IPR issue in the pharma sector.

The minister also expressed his desire for early implementation of reconstruction opportunity zones in the tribal areas of Pakistan as announced by the US president in his recent visit to Pakistan.

Pakistan’s exports to the US over the last three years have been increasing. From $2245.6 million in 2000-01, these stood at $3446.593 million in 2004-05. Exports from the US to Pakistan have also increased from $565.47 million in 2001-02 to $1562.27 million in 2004-05. The balance of trade is in favour of Pakistan. Mr Khan said he was looking forward to working with newly appointed United States Trade Representative (USTR) Ms Susan Schwab. Both sides agreed to develop deeper appreciation of the potential for bilateral trade relations to grow in future.